How Stress Can Cause Oral Health Problems and How to Combat It

In today’s chaotic and hectic world, stress is part and parcel of life. 

Though an optimum level of stress can increase your productivity, and make you feel more alert, it can become a negative factor if you start experiencing an overwhelming amount of stress. Stress can take a toll on all aspects of your life. It can:

  • Take a toll on your mental health. 
  • Affect your sleep patterns. 
  • Affect your physical health. 
  • Also affect your oral health. 

If you are going through a period of extreme stress, you might be vulnerable to these oral health problems: 

●     Teeth Grinding 

Bruxism or teeth grinding is one of the major stress-induced oral health problems. You might be grinding teeth at night and might not even be aware of it. 

 You might not be aware of your nocturnal teeth grinding, but it can result in headaches, a sore jaw in the morning, and facial pain. If you are facing all these symptoms, then it’s best to consult an orthodontist immediately. 

●     Gum Disease

Long-term stress can have a disastrous effect on your body’s ability to fight infections. This can ultimately affect your immune system and lower your defenses against attacks from microbes and bacteria. You might be more vulnerable to getting gum diseases like periodontal diseases. 

●     Dry Mouth

Stress can inhibit the production of saliva, leading to a dry mouth. Also, a few medications that are geared towards alleviating stress and anxiety may cause a dry mouth. 

●     Canker Sores

People try to alleviate high levels of stress in many ways — one of them being biting the inside of your cheek or by vigorous teeth brushing. When combined with a difference in hormones because of high-stress levels, you get painful canker sores on the inside of your cheek. 

●     Yellow Teeth and Bad Breath

Dealing with stress and anxiety can leave you tired, and you might not remember to keep up with your daily routine. If this results in forgetting to keep up a proper oral hygiene routine, you might develop dental plaque, which might cause yellow teeth and bad breath. 

●     Temporomandibular Joint Disorder 

This condition affects the joints that connect your jaw to the temporal bones in your skull. TMJ can be caused due to stress. TMJ stress can result in jaw stiffness, swelling, and popping in the lower jaw just below the ears. Doing jaw exercises can help relieve TMJ pain and headaches.

●     Mouth Warts

A common way to deal with stress is by biting nails. But this can lead to health problems. Constant nail-biting can transfer germs from your nails to your mouth that lead to mouth infections. If you have warts, they might spread from your hands to your mouth. 

●     Burning Mouth Syndrome

Stress can also cause a burning or tingling feeling in the mouth. Most people with burning mouth syndrome suffer from anxiety or depression. A few studies have suggested that it might be possible that nerve fibers are activated by an underlying psychological problem and can cause an aggravated burning sensation. 

●     Damaged Teeth

 Stress can make you clench and unclench your teeth, which can cause damage to your teeth. 

How You Can Stop Stress From Taking Over Your Life

If you have experienced these oral health problems because of stress, you need to think of ways to reduce your stress levels before they cause permanent damage to your health. Here are a few ways: 

  • Relaxation Techniques: Relaxation techniques can help slow down your breathing rate and reduce blood pressure dramatically, all of which flare up if you are stressed. These techniques will also help you relax your muscles, and hence, can help you if you have a clenched jaw. 
  • Eat Healthy: Eating the right foods can help tame your stress levels in many ways. While a few foods are helpful in the production of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that keeps you happy, and other types of food will boost your energy levels, since stress can be physically draining. 

    Remember, you are what you eat. 
  • Exercise Right: Exercise can also help in the production of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that helps keep you happy.
  • Give Yoga a Go: Yoga combines relaxing breathing techniques with physical exertion, both of which aid in stress management. 

Lastly, don’t forget to visit a dentist for your oral health problems. Your dentist might be able to suggest the best course of action for your dental problems. That, combined with maintaining a proper oral hygiene routine, can help you rebuild your oral health.